In the pre-dawn hours of 2 November 2020 – on the anniversary of the colonial Balfour declaration and only days after the one-year anniversary of the imprisonment of Palestinian feminist, leftist and parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar – Israeli occupation forces stormed the homes of women’s movement and student movement leaders, former prisoners and leftist organizers throughout the occupied West Bank of Palestine. They seized Khitam Saafin, the president of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and student leader Shatha al-Tawil, a Bir Zeit University student, after invading their homes in al-Bireh.
The Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees denounced the arrest of Saafin, who has previously been subjected to arbitrary administrative detention, noting that it comes amid an ongoing attack on Palestinian women, especially women students. Shatha Tawil is now among hundreds of Palestinian university students imprisoned by the Israeli occupation, including a number of student leaders at Bir Zeit University.
The UPWC called on “all strugglers for freedom in Palestine and internationally to carry out campaigns of solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners and all of the strugglers of our people until their liberation.”
At almost the same time, Israeli occupation forces seized former prisoner and longtime trade union activist Mohammed Jawabreh, 55, from Izbat al-Jarad southwest of Tulkarem, and prominent Palestinian leftist Jamal Barham, 60, from the village of Ramin, also near Tulkarem, ransacking their homes and abducting these community leaders.
Jamal Barham has been detained in the past without charge or trial under administrative detention and served as the head of the Arab Studies Department in the Palestine Liberation Organization.
In Qalqilya, occupation forces invaded and ransacked the homes of and seized Shaher al-Rai, 50 and Ahmed Mohammed al-Rai, 65, longtime community leaders. Shaher al-Rai is a former prisoner who has been detained on multiple occasions by Israeli occupation forces, often under administrative detention, indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial. He has been arrested seven times, including three stints in administrative detention, and imprisoned for over 12 years in total.
Al-Rai is married to Palestinian activist Manal al-Rai and they have three children, Jarrah, Wajla and Kanaan. Manal al-Rai spoke about the impact of her husband’s earlier administrative detention on their young son in this video from Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association:
Shaher Al-Rai was earlier imprisoned by Palestinian Authority security forces for multiple years after he and his cousin were implicated in a false affidavit given by a Palestinian prisoner under Israeli torture. The confession was proven false by incontrovertible evidence and the Palestinian who made the confession under torture released and later compensated by Israeli intelligence, in an unusual case. Nevertheless, al-Rai remained held in PA prison for years after the discrediting of the confession, and released only after a widespread campaign.
These latest attacks come amid several urgent situations threatening Palestinian prisoners, including an announcement of an outbreak of the novel coronavirus among at least 12 Palestinian prisoners detained in the Israeli occupation’s Gilboa prison, where around 90 prisoners in total are held. Palestinian prisoners in Gilboa, Ramon and Nafha prisons announced that they will escalate their protests given the ongoing negligence and deliberate neglect of Palestinian prisoners’ health by the Israeli prison administration.
Meanwhile, Palestinian detainee Maher al-Akhras is entering his 99th day of hunger strike against his Israeli administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. His health condition has weakened dramatically and he is no longer able to walk and can barely talk. He has insisted on continuing his hunger strike until he wins his freedom from unjust imprisonment. Al-Akhras’ case has spurred worldwide outrage, including a statement from Irish trade unions, international lawyers and multiple social media campaigns to demand his immediate release.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and many organizations, including Within Our Lifetime – United for Palestine, will campaign on social media on Tuesday, 3 November, the 100th day of Maher’s hunger strike for dignity, justice and freedom. We urge you to join us with tweets, photos and videos – and protests and actions – to share your solidarity at this critical moment. Follow @SamidounPP on Twitter to join the Twitterstorm at 10 am Pacific time, 1 pm Eastern time, 7 pm in central Europe and 8 pm Palestine time.
Samidoun Network in occupied Palestine, alongside the families of the prisoners and the martyrs, will hold a protest in occupied Ramallah, Palestine, at 4:30 pm on Tuesday, 3 November, to march for liberation for Maher al-Akhras and all Palestinian prisoners.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network denounces these latest attacks on the Palestinian women’s movement, student movement and community organizers. We urge women’s organizations, student organizations and people of conscience everywhere to raise their voices and act in solidarity with Khitam Saafin, Shatha al-Tawil and their fellow Palestinian prisoners targeted by the Israeli occupation – including by building the movement for the boycott of Israel, its institutions and complicit corporations like HP, Puma and G4S. The Israeli occupation wants, on this anniversary of the Balfour declaration, to continue its colonization of Palestine unchecked by isolating and detaining the leaders of the Palestinian people’s movement. Join us to act and urge their immediate release and the liberation of all Palestinian prisoners, and of Palestine, from the river to the sea!
Today, Thursday 4 June 2020, Israeli occupation forces abducted Palestinian university student Yahya al-Qarout from his family home in the Aqtaba area in occupied Tulkarem after large numbers of occupation soldiers stormed the home at 4:00 a.m. Al-Qarout is in his third year of study at Bir Zeit University, where he studies computer science. He is also the secretary as the preparatory committee of the Bir Zeit University Student Council.
Samidoun Network in occupied Palestine communicated with Yahya’s family, who told Samidoun representatives that this was his first arrest. His family is making attempts to reach the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission in order to learn more about their son’s situation and seek his immediate release. He is expected to be brought before Israeli occupation military courts on Sunday.
The al-Qarout family noted that Yahya is a calm, dedicated student who loves sports, especially weightlifting and football, and is a very socially oriented person who always tries to help and support others.
Over the years, thousands of Palestinian university students have been targeted for arrest and persecution. Palestinian universities have been frequently raided by Israeli occupation forces; student organizations’ offices have been ransacked, their belongings confiscated and destroyed.
Palestinian student activities are notable for their political diversity and expression. Student council elections spark a vast amount of debate and political competition between all trends of the Palestinian movement and are often considered to reflect the prevailing sentiment in Palestinian society. This vibrant expression of a democratic political culture is routinely subjected to violent suppression by the Israeli occupation, including raids and arrests targeting student council members.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network once again urges broad global solidarity with Yahya al-Qarout and all Palestinian students facing repression, arrest and imprisonment targeting their right to education. This includes escalating academic boycott campaigns by students and faculty at universities around the world. Palestinian students continue to organize, struggle and learn despite severe and systematic repression, including torture under interrogation and arrests that inhibit and disrupt their academic careers. We demand the immediate release of Yahya al-Qarout and all imprisoned students!
Former long-term hunger striker and Palestinian detainee Huzaifa Halabiya Bader was once again ordered to six months in administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial, by the Israeli Ofer Military Court on 25 May 2020. The new administrative detention order comes only five and a half months after he was released in December 2019 from a previous period of imprisonment without charge or trial, during which he conducted a 67-day hunger strike to win his freedom.
Israeli occupation forces raided his hometown of Abu Dis near occupied Jerusalem on 17 May, seizing Bader from his home. He was once again taken from his young daughter Majdal, who was born during his previous imprisonment. Bader, 29, suffers from a number of health concerns, and his imprisonment amid the COVID-19 pandemic is raising even greater alarms. He survived a serious fire in an accident as a young boy, leaving him with burns over the vast majority of his body, and later survived leukemia. As a result, he has consistently required specialized medical treatment, while Palestinian prisoners are subjected to systematic medical neglect and mistreatment inside Israeli jails.
During his previous term in administrative detention, dozens of Palestinian prisoners joined solidarity strikes and refused meals to join the campaign for his release as he carried on a 67-day hunger strike for freedom. His community in Abu Dis maintained ongoing solidarity tents and vigils to demand his freedom, while protesters elsewhere in Palestine and internationally echoed the calls for his immediate release.
He is now one of approximately 500 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial, out of nearly 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners in total. Administrative detention was initially introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate and has been embraced by the Zionist regime to arbitrarily detain Palestinians, especially community activists, student organizers and other influential leaders in their community. Administrative detention orders may be issued for up to six months at a time and are indefinitely renewable; Palestinians have spent years jailed without charge or trial as a result.
It is notable that the new arrest and arbitrary imprisonment of Huzaifa Halabiya Bader comes as the Israeli regime – along with its U.S. imperialist partners – plans and promotes the official annexation of even more of occupied Palestine, specifically the fertile Jordan Valley.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network demands the immediate release of Huzaifa Halabiya Bader and all Palestinian prisoners, especially those jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention. Administrative detention is a colonial mechanism aimed to prevent, disrupt and target Palestinian resistance and organizing in any form, removing leaders from their communities as they confront the daily violence of Zionist colonialism, apartheid and occupation. We urge the broadest international solidarity to demand the release of Huzaifa Halabiya Bader and all Palestinian detainees, including building the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions and the isolation of Israel.
Palestinian prisoner Sami Janazrah, 47, neared his second week of hunger strike as Palestinians and people around the world readied to celebrate Eid al-Fitr on Sunday, 24 May 2020. Janazrah is once again jailed without charge or trial under Israeli administrative detention after conducting two previous hunger strikes to win his release. Janazrah is currently being held in Ela prison, thrown in isolation in retaliation for his hunger strike.
Janazrah was once again abducted by Israeli occupation forces from his home in the al-Fawwar refugee camp south of al-Khalil on 16 September 2019, only 10 months after his last release from 11 months in prison, also under administration without charge or trial. Following his detention, he was issued a four-month detention order by the Ofer military court. Administrative detention orders – a practice first introduced by the British colonial mandate in occupied Palestine and then adopted by the Zionist regime – are based on secret evidence and are indefinitely renewable. There are currently almost 500 Palestinians held in administrative detention, out of nearly 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
His detention order has since been renewed twice for an additional four months, the latest detention order sparking the launch of his hunger strike on 11 May 2020. Days before, the Israeli supreme court rejected the appeal of his lawyer against his administrative detention without charge or trial. He has previously launched two long-term hunger strikes against his imprisonment, for 76 days in 2016 and for 43 days in 2018.
He is the father of three children, Firas (16), Mahmoud (12), and Maria (8). He and his wife are awaiting the birth of their fourth child in the coming days, and he had been awaiting his freedom to welcome his new child. He missed the birth of two of his children due to his imprisonment; he has been jailed over the years for a total of 11 years, most of them without charge or trial in administrative detention.
Janazrah’s hunger strike comes as Israeli occupation forces announced the official reopening of the military courts on 24 May 2020. In-person military court sessions attended by the prisoners and at most one family member have been suspended since the first week of March, ostensibly in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Prisoners were also denied legal and family visits, with only limited phone calls allowed with lawyers. No indication has been made that legal and family visits will be resumed, despite the fact that prisoners will be put at risk to their health through arduous “bosta” transfers and repeated contact with jailers, guards and military court officials. (Israeli officials have claimed that medical masks will be worn in the military courts.)
Palestinian prisoners and their families have raised very serious concerns that the Israeli prison system may attempt to make these supposed preventative measures the new normal, especially as denial of family visits, suppression of access to lawyers as well as disregard for and medical neglect of Palestinian prisoners’ health are constant and systematic Israeli policies.
While administrative detention without charge or trial is one clear example of Israeli injustice, so too are the military courts, where Palestinians are convicted at rates greater than 99% on an array of bogus and trumped-up charges that criminalize political activity, public speech and student and cultural events, among other actions.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its strongest solidarity with Sami Janazrah and all Palestinian prisoners on the front lines of struggle against colonial policies of imprisonment, fighting for their freedom with their bodies and lives on the line. International solidarity can be particularly important to prevent occupation forces from isolating Janazrah and his fellow prisoners politically as well as physically – the Palestinian prisoners are not forgotten! Freedom for all Palestinian prisoners, and freedom for Palestine from the river to the sea!
To some who hold power and authority, “peace” is linked with settlement and accommodation, with privileges they aspire to obtain in exchange for crumbs of the historic Palestine. Salam, on the other hand, whose name in Arabic means “peace,” exemplifies another meaning for the term.
Salam Taha was born in the village of Deir Abu Misha’al, situated northwest of Ramallah city. He adores the sea, although he was deprived of enjoying it due to the occupation. Salam usually escapes from the noise of the city to Khirbet Al-Rachniyeh east of the village, to relish the green views of his secret place, gazing towards the occupied Palestinian coast, confronting his feelings with absolute silence, and spending time in spacious verdant fields.
“He is the most shy among us but the bravest too,” says his friend at university.
Arrested while caring for his child
Israeli military soldiers raided Salam’s house after exploding its door to make their entry. They attacked Salam, forcing against the wall and cowardly hitting his body with their rifles.
It was four o’clock in the morning, when Salam was awake caring for his one-month baby, Cana’an. He never knew it is going to be his last turn in the ongoing rotation with his wife, Rubou’ or that he would be unable to look after his child for quite a long time.
Salam was tied to the kitchen chair, while military soldiers ransacked his place, turning it upside down. They were looking for his older mobile phone, which was directly in front of them the entire time, but they claimed not to notice it while acting in such a vicious manner.
Salam remained placid, as if he was unbothered, and mocked the soldiers’ actions, an attitude that angered the chief officer, who tried to provoke Salam by cursing his wife Rubou’ and directing profane insults at her while she prepared some milk for her child to calm his continuous crying during the assault. He stared at the chief officer with a shaming look, as if asking, “Is this the way you are raised to respect mothers?!”
He hummed a melody, with unidentifiable lyrics, repeating the only recognized words of it, which were “you may.”
After the extensive vandalism inside the house, the Israeli soldiers handcuffed Salam’s hands and grabbed him tightly from the shoulders. Rubou’ quickly knelt down on the ground, trying to put her husband’s shoes on with all care and diligence.
Salam saluted her, saying, “It will not take so long… I will come back soon.”
“This is how my husband was abducted on a Friday at dawn, 30 August 2018, only two days before his master’s degree studies commenced, as he was registered in the International Studies Program at Birzeit University,” Rubou’ says.
Earning his undergraduate degree with several interruptions
Over 80 students at Birzeit University are currently imprisoned in Israeli prisons. 20 of them are held under administrative detention, without any charges or trial. Their detentions are based on the “predictions” of the area commander of the Israeli military occupation, that these students might pose a “security threat to the state of Israel.” The rest of the students face indictments in military court, mostly revolving around involvement in student activities inside the university.
“Salam earned his BA degree in political science with a minor in public administration. His undergraduate studies were frequently interrupted by arrests, which extended the normal duration required to finish his studies,” Rubou’ stated.
There are students whose first university degree take them double the time they actually need to complete all their university requirements, in addition to courses related to their specialty. Students fail to join their classes, due to their repeated detentions, and yet try hard to resume their studies again at an older age with younger cohorts and sometime different generations than the ones that launched with them their academic journey.
Last week, three more student leaders were abducted by Israeli soldiers, just days before the end of the semester: Izz Shabaneh from the village of Sinjil, Mehdi Karajeh from the village of Saffa, and Basil Barghouthi from the village of Beit Rima.
Salam’s secret weapon
The Sunday after the invasion, Rubou’ knew that her husband is being held at Al-Moskobiyeh interrogation center in Jerusalem, where Salam remained for 46 days of harsh interrogation, during which he was banned from seeing his lawyer. Salam visited Jerusalem not as a tourist visiting the Dome of the Rock or the Holy Sepulcher, but rather stuck in an underground dungeon with numerous torture methods that are hatefully designed in order to drain the prisoner’s will. Fluorescent lights were switched on 24/7, causing him a severe headache and irritating his eyes, coupled with echoes of endless screaming and low temperatures directed on his body by an air-conditioner were only some of the examples of the constant pressure and inhuman treatment.
After three months of detention, Rubou’ decided to take the risk in order to cheer her husband up and transfer to him good feelings to help him stay strong and carry on with a brave heart. She decided to provide her husband with a secret weapon while attending his court session.
How is that possible if even a tissue is not allowed to pass through the punitive inspections and searches?! She took extra care of her outfit, wore her favorite jacket, closed its buttons, and luckily succeeded to pass through the first inspection, the second one through an automatic inspection machine, and the last personal one, that looks like two harassing hands passing an electronic stick over your body. After she waited outside in the cold for hours, the security guard notified Rubou’ that it was time for Salam’s trial. She walked into the court room with her surprise and unbuttoned her jacket, where Salam was able to see his son Cana’an’s smiling face printed on Robou’s T-shirt. For two minutes long, the security guards were frozen in place. They did not know how to deter such a secret weapon!
Rubou’ laughed while recalling the incident, saying: “I felt that we had won a victory … the guards were frozen and did not know what to do! They think they can abolish the longing in our hearts, but we proved them wrong. This was my way of resistance and standing by Salam’s side”.
82 days of harsh investigation in the Al-Moskobiyeh slaughterhouse
“Salam did not sleep for so long, he was immensely pale, and bleeding from his wrists due to the tight shackles around them. The prison administration employed a number of interrogators who created stories and fake scenarios about our family to weaken Salam. Some of their fabrications were about me, his wife, and our son Cana’an, found dead in a car accident, others were about bringing me for interrogation in a room adjacent to Salam’s cell”, Rubou said, recalling what Salam told her in one of her visits.
Many deceptions and malicious tricks were practiced by the Israeli intelligence agency, known as the Shabak, in order to put pressure on Salam, with one sole aim: Extracting confessions from him in order to celebrate their delusional victory and prove their domination over Palestinians.
“Before his recent arrest, Salam underwent a colonoscopy, as he suffers from colon problems, stomach pains and hemorrhoids that caused him bleeding during the interrogation. The lawyer submitted Salam’s medical papers explaining his condition, but the fascist regime did not care about his medication, and refused to let him go to the bathroom frequently,” Rubou’ says.
The Israeli occupation deliberately mistreats prisoners, providing them with poor and inadequate health care in an attempt to exhaust the captives. As punishment for Salam’s steadfastness, the illegitimate military court sentenced him to 18 months in prison.
Just two weeks before the end of his sentence, when Rubou’ was wondering about the color of the dress that she planned wear to welcome her partner home, and the unique outfit she is preparing for her son Cana’an to wear, only two weeks before Salam’s sentence ended, the Israeli military forces sent him to the slaughterhouse of Al-Moskobiyeh once again. Salam underwent thirty-six days of cruel interrogation with an agitated and hysterical frequency, during which he was once again prevented from meeting with his lawyer.
Eighty-two days is the cumulative time of interrogation Salam has gone through, while the “civilized” world and the luckier youths of the colonial project live in isolation from the tragedies of the occupation, perhaps by playing soccer or baseball and setting some exciting plans for their travels to the Maldives. Eighty-two days of interrogation, and yet the occupation steals years from Palestinian youth: Their future, their families and their children.
Meanwhile, international human rights organizations act like Pontius Pilate, when he washed his hands of guilt for the blood of Christ. Such organizations’ roles are to adopt “codes of conduct”, or issue informative brochures, or to express their “mild” concerns about a rough death that happened in a sacred spot in the far reaches of the earth, called Palestine.
Salam is still detained without trial in the Eshel desert prison, after he was arbitrarily transferred in mid-March from Ofer prison overnight as a punitive measure, as a result of which he had to sleep a full night in the “Ramla crossing-point”, a place where prisoners are gathered before they are distributed to other prisons. This happened at a time when the occupation claimed to be cautious and to stop unnecessary movement between prisons, in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“You may build a huge wall around me, and another wall around you, the enemy of the sun … Still I will not compromise” lyrics of an Arabic song
Eshel Prison differs in its structure from other prisons; it is more isolated and brutal. The square yard, known as the fora, in which the prisoners spend their outdoor time is covered, so that they do not see the sky at all, nor the sun’s light. It is not available all day, but only for specific hours, and it is also far from the prisoners’ rooms. When released prisoners describe this prison, some say: “The bathroom in Eshel does not accommodate a chubby person, and the showers are narrow. All can be coped with except the climate of the desert, the high humidity and temperature in the morning and extreme cold at night”.
Salam spends most of his time reading and trying to maintain a healthy pattern by playing sports. He keeps humming his favorite song, as he walks in the fora: “You may steal the last inch of my land… You may feed the years of my youth to the prison … You may put down the flame I keep rising… You may prevent me from kissing my mother …You may defeat the dreams I have for tomorrow. You may deprive my children of wearing their Eid holiday outfits… You may build a wall and yet another taller one… In that act you assure to the world that you are the enemy of the sun. Still I will not compromise. Until the last pulse in my veins, I will continue fighting,” an Arabic song by Lebanese singer Julia Butros,
Fatherhood on hold
“It is not easy to raise a child on your own, while the pictures of the baby’s father are hung on the wall”, Rubou’ said. “Cana’an will turn two years old in July, while he does not know his father. I finally obtained a permit to visit Salam after being banned for almost a year. The long-anticipated permit allowed me to visit my husband three times only before the spread of COVID-19, after which visits were suspended.”
“We were born in pursuit of joy, and for joy we die”
“To see my husband in front of me through an insulated partition and isolating glass without being able to touch his hand, and to speak to him through telephones which the jailers control, is not easy at all. This increases the pain in my heart,” Rubou’ says. “Salam and I experienced a beautiful love story at university, which was completed in our marriage, and Cana’an is the fruit of our love.”
“With all the suffering that I live alone with Cana’an, and all the decisions I have to make, serving as mother and father at the same time, I return to remember what we insisted on highlighting in our wedding card. ‘We were born in pursuit of joy, and for joy we die.’ This is our conviction, and this is our belief in which we live every day, and we will raise our children to follow it as well,” Rubou’ concluded.
Palestinian, Arab and international organizations are invited to endorse the statement below, which will be reissued with all additional signatories. To add the signature of your group or youth organization, please email email@example.com.
We, the undersigned Palestinian youth and student organizations, and with us the associations, organizations and institutions that have signed this statement, call on the masses of Palestinian youth and students throughout occupied Palestine and in exile to join us in a popular initiative for the advancement and initiation of national development for the restoration of the revolutionary democratic approach for a new stage of struggle. The core of this initiative is the objectives of our Palestinian people: return, liberation, and continuing struggle to achieve all of their legitimate national goals and aspirations, no matter how long it may take.
The cause of Palestine, the sacred cause of our people, the cause of the exploited popular classes in our Arab homeland and the forces of freedom in the world, is today intended for liquidation, to be uprooted from the awareness and memory of our people and our nation. The rights of our people everywhere are subjected to all forms of distortion and confiscation. Nothing will protect this great cause from the ravages of liquidation and destruction except for the minds and arms of our people, the will of the committed, patriotic and revolutionary youth, and the steadfastness of women, workers and peasants.
Therefore, today, we call on our Palestinian people, especially the young Palestinian generations, to reject and repudiate the policies and positions represented in the approach of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his cohort, and to affirm that the leadership of the Palestinian Authority does not represent our people and is outside the ranks of our national struggle. We also call upon our great people to embody this popular will on the ground by organizing the widest, unified popular framework to overcome the disastrous phase of Oslo and all of its accompanying effects.
We invite you to participate broadly in the overthrow of the program of the so-called “Palestinian leadership,” which is based on a path of surrender and abandonment. This corrupt approach has come to its last days after over 40 years of marketing the project of a phantom state. This political class that has brought only shame and disaster to our people seeks today to convert the administrative autonomy in the occupied West Bank into the end of our liberation projects. The money of this class is mortgaged to the agents of the occupation, to “economic peace” and normalization projects. It has become imperative for our people to isolate this sector and defeat its program in the squares, streets, factories, farms, universities and schools inside and outside occupied Palestine.
And as we confront the U.S., Zionist and reactionary policies that today target the rights of our people to life and existence, in the face of the acceleration of the hostile liquidation project that aims to demolish the horizons of the national liberation project and abort all possibilities for renewal, in front of the daily brutal attack on the prisoners’ movement in the occupation prisons, and amid the confiscation of all of the natural and human rights of our people in the camps, silence becomes complicity, betrayal, a form of submission and failure.
The time has come for these leaders of surrender to depart from the Muqata’ headquarters in Ramallah and to isolate this defeated sector that holds itself close to the Zionist entity and the CIA, participating in the collective punishment of our people in Gaza, depriving the families of martyrs and prisoners of their rights, suppressing the resistance and coordinating with the occupation forces to target the fundamentals of our society, its national resistance and its youth and student vanguard.
The defeat of the Oslo project and the isolation of Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies are more achievable and realistic than ever, despite all of the capacities and resources that the forces hostile to the Palestinian people use to support the leadership of the Authority. However, the crucial element in this lengthy historical battle is the role of the popular masses and their ability to generate the revolutionary approach from the grassroots and bring it into the light, from the depths of our history and our militant legacies of struggle and from the womb of our Palestinian societies in every popular community, every neighborhood, camp, city and village.
We call on all Palestinian resistance forces, with their various political and intellectual currents and paths, to end the state of disintegration and fragmentation by forming a unified national front. This will be a support and sustenance for our people everywhere, and it sword and shield will protect our people as they continue on their historical road of great sacrifice and struggle in order to obtain their rights and break their chains, achieving our collective and complete liberation from the clutches of Zionism.
We call on you to broad popular engagement and to intensify popular national activities during the Week of Palestinian Struggle, May 15-22, 2020, as our first stage in announcing a new phase of struggle under the slogan: Palestine Day – the Day of Return and Liberation. Let history bear witness to the crime, the ongoing Nakba that has continued since 1947-48 and, at the same time, testifies to the ongoing Palestinian resistance that continues until victory, despite all of the sacrifices and lengthy years of struggle.
No to the path of surrender and liquidation! No to the project of the “self-rule government” and “administrative autonomy!”
Yes to the path of return and liberation. Yes to the resistance and intifada until victory!
AlKarama-Palestinian Women Movement in Spain حركة نساء فلسطين الكرامة في إسبانيا
Centro Cultural e Politico Al Janiah\Brazil مركز الجانية الثقافي والسياسي\البرازيل
Brazilian Arab Palestinian Society – Corumba\ Brazil
Students for Justice in Palestine at John Jay College
Students for Justice in Palestine at Butler University
Within Our Lifetime – United for Palestine
Canada Palestine Association
Palestinian Student Association at Wilfrid Laurier University/ Canada
Palestine Solidarity Collective at York University
Palestine Solidarity Group at University of Windsor
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights at McMaster University
Midwest Students for Justice in Palestine
Handala Coalition of Michigan
Palestinian Cultural Club – Beirut / Lebanon
Palestinian Arab Cultural Club\ Lebanon
المنظمات الشبابية والطلابية الفلسطينية: آن أوان رحيل ” القيادة الفلسطينية “
بيان / عريضة للتوقيع
نحن المنظمات الشبابيّة والطلابيّة الفلسطينية، ومعنا الجمعيات والمنظمات والمؤسسات الموّقعة على هذا البيان، ندعو جماهير طلبة وشباب فلسطين في عموم الوطن المحتل والمنافي إلى المبادرة الشعبية من أجل النهوض والشروع في البناء الوطني واستعادة نهج التغيير الثوري الديموقراطي للعبور نحو مرحلة نضالية جديدة جوهرها مشروع شعبنا الفلسطيني في العودة والتحرير والنضال لتحقيق كافة أهدافه وطموحاته الوطنية المشروعة مهما طال الزمن.
إن قضية فلسطين، قضية شعبنا المقدسة، قضية الطبقات الشعبية المُستغَلة في وطننا العربي وأحرار العالم، يُراد اليوم تصفيتها وقلعها من جذورها ومن وعي الشعب وذاكرة الأمة، حيث تتعرض حقوق شعبنا في كافة أماكن تواجده إلى كل أشكال التشويه والمصادرة، ولن يحمي هذه القضية الكبرى من براثن التصفية والإلغاء إلا سواعد وعقول شعبنا وإرادة شبابه الوطني الطليعي والثوري وإرادة نساءه وعماله وفلاحيه.
وعليه، فإننا اليوم ندعو شعبنا الفلسطيني وفي مقدمتهم الأجيال الفلسطينية الشابة إلى رفض السياسات والمواقف التي يمثلها نهج رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية محمود عباس وفريقه، واعتبار قيادة السلطة الفلسطينية خارجة عن الصف الوطني ولا تمثل شعبنا، كما وندعو الكل الوطني إلى تجسيد الإرادة الشعبية على الأرض من خلال تنظيم أوسع حالة شعبية موحدة لتجاوز مرحلة أوسلو الكارثية وكل ملحقاتها وآثارها.
إننا ندعوكم إلى المشاركة الشعبية الواسعة في الإطاحة الشاملة بما يُسمى ” برنامج القيادة الفلسطينية ” القائم على نهج الاستسلام والتفريط. النهج الفاسد الذي بات يلفظ أنفاسه الأخيرة بعد أكثر من 40 عاماً من تسويق مشروع الدولة الوهمية، وهذه الطبقة السياسية التي جلبت الخزي والكوارث وتسعى اليوم إلى تحويل الحكم الإداري الذاتي في الضفة المحتلة إلى نهاية مشروعنا التحرري، طبقة المال من وكلاء الاحتلال المرتهنة إلى مشاريع ” السلام الاقتصادي” والتطبيع. فقد صار لِزاماً على شعبنا عزلها وإسقاط برنامجها في الساحات والميادين والشوارع وفي المصانع والمزارع والجامعات والمدارس داخل وخارج فلسطين المحتلة.
وأمام كل ما يجري اليوم من سياسات أمريكية وصهيونية ورجعية تستهدف حقوق شعبنا في الوجود والحياة، وأمام تسارع وتيرة المشروع التصفوي المعادي وضرب آفاق المشروع الوطني واجهاض إمكانيات توليده من جديد، وأمام الهجمة المسعورة اليومية على الحركة الأسيرة في سجون العدوّ، ومصادرة كل حق طبيعي وإنساني لشعبنا في المخيمات، يُصبح الصمت تواطئ وخيانة وشكلاً من أشكال العبودية والسقوط.
آن أوان رحيل هذه القيادات المستسلمة في مقر المقاطعة برام الله، وعزل هذه الشريحة المهزومة التي ترتمي في حضن الكيان الصهيوني ووكالة المخابرات الأمريكية، تعاقب شعبنا في غزة، وتحرم عوائل الشهداء والأسرى من حقوقهم وتطعن المقاومة وتنسق مع قوات الاحتلال لاستهداف أمن مجتمعنا ومقاومته الوطنية و طلائعه الشبابية والطلابية.
إن هزيمة مشروع أوسلو التصفويّ وعزل محمود عباس وفريقه هي إمكانية واقعية أكثر من أيّ وقت مضى، رغم كل الإمكانيات والقدرات التي تملكها القوى المعادية لشعبنا التي تساند قيادة السلطة، غير أن العنصر الحاسم، في هذه المعركة التاريخية الطويلة، هو دور الجماهير الشعبية وقدرتها على توليد النهج الثوري من القاع إلى النور، ومن عمق تاريخنا وإرثنا الكفاحي ومن رحم مجتمعاتنا الفلسطينية في كل تجمع شعبي وكل حي ومخيم ومدينة وقرية.
إننا ندعو كافة قوى المقاومة الفلسطينية على اختلاف تياراتها ومشاربها السياسية والفكرية إلى إنهاء حالة التفكك والشرذمة من خلال تشكيل جبهة وطنية موحدة، تكون سنداً وعوناً لشعبنا في كل مكان، وسيفه ودرعه الذي يحميه، وهو يواصل مسيرته التاريخية ويقدم التضحيات الجسام من أجل انتزاع حقوقه وكسر قيوده وتحقيق خلاصه النهائي والجماعي من براثن الاستعمار الصهيوني.
ندعوكم إلى الانخراط الشعبي الواسع وتكثيف الفعاليات الوطنية الشعبية في أسبوع النضال الفلسطيني 15 ـــــ 22 مايو/أيار، 2020 ليكون محطتنا الأولى في إعلان مرحلة نضالية جديدة تحت شعار: يوم فلسطين. يوم العودة والتحرير. وليعود هذا التاريخ شاهداً على الجريمة ـــ النكبة المستمرة منذ العام 1947 / 1948 وشاهداً في الوقت ذاته على المقاومة الفلسطينية المستمرة حتى النصر. مهما بلغت التضحيات وطال الزمن.
لا لمشروع التفريط والاستسلام. لا لمشروع الحكم الإداري الذاتي.
نعم لنهج العودة والتحرير. نعم للمقاومة والانتفاضة حتى النصر.
Ibrahim (to the Shabak interrogator): Have you ever interrogated a table? I am a table now. Go interrogatea table. If it talks back to you, come to me and you’ll find that I have become a mountain.” — Ibrahim El-Rai, quoted in a handbook publishedby the Committee for the First Commemoration ofthe Martyr Ibrahim Mahmood al-Rai (Translated and reprinted in Lena Meari’s Sumud)
On the 32nd anniversary of his assassination behind Israeli bars, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes the memory of Ibrahim al-Rai (Abu al-Muntasser), the hero of the interrogation rooms. Ibrahim al-Rai was killed under torture by Israeli jailers in the interrogation cells where he was held and tortured for over 10 months of continuous solitary confinement on April 11, 1988. Until his death, he gave not one word of confession to his jailers and torturers. His revolutionary life of struggle and resistance continues to inspire Palestinians and internationalists everywhere, not only for his steadfastness behind bars but for his radical love for and commitment to the Palestinian people and their liberation.
Born in 1960 in Qalqilya, Ibrahim al-Rai joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1978 after two years of active involvement in the popular struggle. He was first arrested in August 1978 for his role in the Front and was released in 1982. He was released as part of a campaign by the Israeli occupation to promote the so-called “Village leagues” as an alternative to the Palestinian revolution and its leadership. Upon his release he publicly declared, “These people represent only themselves and the PLO is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” at the time a revolutionary declaration that openly defied the occupation upon his release. He was returned to prison to complete his original sentence.
He was active in all fields of struggle, organizing mass cultural activities, dabkeh groups and youth symposiums. He established the Democratic Progressive Student Pole at An-Najah University in Nablus before devoting himself to political activity in Qalqilya as well as armed resistance throughout the northern West Bank of occupied Palestine.
He formed volunteer work committees that harvested wheat with the farmers, provided assistance to poor and marginalized people, rebuilt damaged properties, cleaned the cemeteries and painted schools in the refugee camps. He took strong inspiration from international and Arab struggles, including the Algerian liberation movement and the Vietnamese people’s war.
Again, in 1986 he was arrested and interrogated under torture for nine months, during which time he refused to provide a confession despite facing intense torture. Even after he was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison, he was not sent to the collective prison rooms with fellow prisoners but was instead held in solitary confinement, denied the ability to even shower, shave or change his clothes.
During this period he was held for 58 days in the interrogation cells in Jenin prison, then transferred to the interrogation cells in the old Nablus prison, and from there to the infamous al-Moskobiyeh detention center. He maintained a hunger strike throughout his time in the Moskobiyeh detention center until 29 November 1987, when he was transferred to Ramleh prison and thrown into solitary confinement there, where torture and interrogation continued. While held in al-Moskobiyeh, he wrote on the walls of his cell: “My comrades, they may hang me and this is possible, and if they hang me, they will not kill me, so I will stay alive. I will challenge them and I will not die, and remember me, I will remain alive in the beats of your heart.”
His example represented the “Philosophy of Confrontation Behind Bars” and resistance under interrogation that has come to exemplify Palestinian sumoud or steadfastness. Two days before his death he sent a letter to his family members:
“My beloved family, my lovely mother, passionate regards from my heart. I received your letter and, indeed, I read it almost every day as it encompasses immense meanings that motivate me and give me new powers each second I spend in my solitary cell. The poem that the comrades dedicated to me affectsme deeply and mobilizes me to really be the samed [steadfast] hero. . . . I realize that my solitary confinement is meant to separate me socially and culturally.Yet their plans will fail. The increase of suffering and hardships will not stopme; it motivates me to continue. . . . My beloved, I wish for you to ask the lawyer to visit me as there are issues I need to discuss with her regarding my solitary confinement and my case.”
Ibrahim al-Rai is considered to be the Bobby Sands of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, a symbol not only of the prisoners but of an entire people’s commitment to resist colonialism, Zionism, and imperialism. His experience inspired a generation of Palestinians to refuse to confess under torture, and the slogan, “Resist, resist like al-Rai under interrogation” remains a call for Palestinian revolutionary consciousness that refuses to break or bend.
Manolis Glezos speaks in Athens on 20 December 2017, with Mohammed Khatib, Samidoun’s Europe coordinator
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network mourns the passing of Manolis Glezos, 97, a lifelong champion of liberation, a legendary anti-Nazi resistance fighter and a dedicated friend of a free Palestine. We remember his commitment to continue to resist all forms of exploitation and oppression, from the European Union’s plundering of the resources of the Greek people to the Israeli apartheid regime in occupied Palestine. His example of revolutionary commitment to people’s liberation will continue to stand as an inspiration and an example to all who struggle for radical change and a different, better world.
Glezos became a symbol of the Greek resistance to Nazi occupation and invasion when he climbed the Acropolis with his comrade Apostolis Santas, tore down the swastika flag. He was arrested and tortured repeatedly for his involvement in the resistance, and he was sentenced to death in absentia while the Nazis did not know his identity. After he returned to Greece following its liberation from Nazi occupation, Glezos returned to Greece, where he continued to fight against the right-wing government and later the dictatorship. For his work as a journalist and his activism, he faced multiple arrests and imprisonments, including three death sentences, until his final acquittal in the general amnesty of 1971. He was convicted 28 times for his political activity and served 11 years in prison. He was forced into exile for 4.5 years during the Greek military junta.
He worked as editor-in-chief of the newspaper Rizopastis and later, directed the newspaper Avgi. After the fall of the dictatorship in 1974, he served as president of the United Democratic Left (ECHR), a member of parliament for the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and then a member of European Parliament with SYRIZA, from 2014 to 2015. He left SYRIZA after its acquiescence to the demands of the European “troika” of capital, resigning from his position to assert the rights of the Greek people.
Throughout his life, he was committed to a vision of liberation that was fully inclusive of the Palestinian people. He participated in protests inside the European Parliament to stand with the Palestinian people under Israeli attack in Gaza and called for freedom for Khalida Jarrar and other Palestinian political prisoners. In 2002, Israeli occupation forces blocked him and his colleagues from marching to Ramallah under siege.
On 20 December 2017, at an event organized by Samidoun in Athens marking 50 years of struggle of the Palestinian revolutionary left, two Palestinian youth presented him with a kuffiyeh and a map of Palestine to honor his lifelong commitment to liberation and his many years of struggle. Glezos addressed the event, speaking about his own history with Palestine solidarity and today’s situation, with Trump recognizing al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel. Glezos noted that Trump does not represent the people of the United States but himself and the ruling class, emphasizing that he has no right to decide to whom al-Quds belongs and that it is the rightful capital of the Palestinian people.
Glezos said that in his analysis, the Palestinian leadership has made major mistakes over the years, first and foremost the recognition of the Israeli state and secondly the decision to stop the Palestinian armed struggle outside Palestine. He concluded by emphasizing continuous and ongoing solidarity with the Palestinian people until the total liberation of Palestine.
herese Halasa as a young fighter in the camps and later in life, living in Amman after her release.
On 28 March 2020, Therese Halasa, lifelong struggler and Palestinian revolutionary, passed away in Amman, Jordan, at the age of 66. Born in Akka, occupied Palestine ’48 in 1954 to Palestinian and Jordanian parents, she grew up under Israeli martial law imposed on Palestinians. After the 1967 war and the occupation of the remainder of Palestine – the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – she was inspired by the same call as thousands of young Palestinians, flocking to the camps of the fighting movements of the Palestine Liberation Organization. She finished high school in Akka, studied nursing in Nazareth and left Palestine in 1971, without informing her family, to join the Palestinian liberation movement.
In an interview with scholars of the Learn Palestine project, she described her own crossing of the border from 1948 Palestine to Lebanon to join the Palestinian revolution. She emphasizes that she did not join the revolution due to “suffering, but due to a sense of patriotism inspired by Abdel Nasser and my father.”
As an 18-year-old Palestinian fighter in 1972, Theresa was one of four militants who hijacked a Belgian Sabena plane, Flight 571, en route to Tel Aviv. Their demand: freedom for 315 Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails.
The four Palestinian fighters, Therese Halasa, Rima Tannous (a young Jordanian woman), Ali Taha Abu Sneineh and Abdel-Aziz al-Atrash, and the plane were attacked by Israeli forces after landing in Palestine, disguised as Red Cross workers and aircraft technicians. The forces that attacked the plane and killed Abu Sneineh and al-Atrash – as well as a 22-year-old passenger, Miriam Anderson – included Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu; Netanyahu himself was shot in the shoulder, and Therese Halasa was severely injured.
Rima Tannous and Therese Halasa were brought before an Israeli military court and sentenced to life imprisonment, but they continued to educate themselves and struggle behind prison bars. Rima Tannous told her story of torture under Israeli interrogation in an account published after her release from Israeli prisons in 1979 in a prisoner exchange; Therese Halasa was released four years later in 1983 in another prisoner exchange with the Palestinian resistance. At the time of her release, she was engaged with other prisoners in a collective hunger strke.
After her release, Therese Halasa was expelled from occupied Palestine. She lived the rest of her life in Jordan, marrying and working as a nurse caring for patients with disabilities. She continued to tell her story, including to documentarians and filmmakers researching the history of the Sabena hijacking and the Palestinian revolution. Despite her illness and battle with lung cancer, she continued to be present at countless sit-ins and demonstrations for Palestine in Jordan.
Rima Tannous, Therese’s comrade-in-arms, shared her story of involvement, resistance, torture and oppression inside Israeli prisons in a statement published in 1979 after her release as part of a collection, Palestinian Political Prisoners: Struggle Behind Iron Bars, published by the PLO’s Unified Information Department and the Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners in Israeli Jails. We present Rima’s story, below, which includes a detailed description of her and Therese’s reunification behind bars, as well as their interaction with international political prisoners jailed by Israel for their involvement in the Palestinian struggle
Khaled Barakat, Palestinian writer and the international coordinator of the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat, filed an appeal against the latest attack by German immigration authorities against him. The Berlin immigration office announced that it intended to bar him from Germany for four years based on his political beliefs, writings and articles, particularly his rejection of “Israel’s right to exist” and his support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. Barakat and his lawyer are fighting back in court against the decree, the latest in a long line of repressive actions by the German state targeting Palestinian activists and organizers working in solidarity with Palestine.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network talked with Khaled Barakat about the situation in Germany and the struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Read our interview below for a critical discussion of key issues facing our movement, from racism and repression to a vision for a liberated Palestine.
We invite you to join us for a virtual event on Thursday, 26 March, “Fighting Anti-Palestinian Repression with Khaled Barakat.” This event will take place over Zoom at 12:00 pm Pacific time/3:00 pm Eastern time/8:00 pm Central European Time/9:00 pm Palestine time. Join the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/518907218772925/
Samidoun: Why do you think German officials and the Berlin immigration office are continuing their political attacks on you, even though you are not living in Germany?
Khaled Barakat: The main reason that the German authorities took this decision of banning me for four years from entering Germany is to silence and suppress the Palestinian and Arab communities inside Germany more broadly. This case began with the confiscation of the right to speak, with the political ban on my speech at the event on June 22, 2019, shutting down an event that was organized by three Arab community organizations. My planned speech at this event was a discussion of Trump’s so-called “deal of the century,” and they found it so unacceptable that I would address this, that they sent the police to prevent it from happening.
This began as an attack on speech and expression, and it remains an attack on speech and expression. Germany is attempting to create an “example” of me, to show that those who oppose Israeli policies and the German political position in support of the occupier and the colonizer, will be subjected to silencing and repression. They do not want Israel – or Germany – to face this type of open criticism.
Further, they are not just worried about one writer who writes articles and gives talks. They are concerned about the strength of the Arab community in Berlin. They want to undermine the community’s attempts to organize itself, particularly the activities of Palestinian and Arab youth, who can become a real power if they come together, mobilize and organize for justice in Palestine, but also in Germany, fighting against racism and all forms of oppression.
S: Throughout the document, they repeatedly raise that you have spoken out in support of Palestinians’ right to resist occupation. At the same time, they claim that opposing Israel’s “right to national defense” is actually anti-Semitic, so they do not embrace some sort of pacifist position and instead support an Israeli monopoly on arms and “violence.” Why do you think it is important to defend Palestinians’ right to resist?
KB: Palestinians have been resisting occupation and colonization for over a century. They have waged revolution after revolution. Their revolution is continuous; it has never stopped, and it will remain until the liberation of the land and people of Palestine. Palestinian resistance is a right, and this right belongs to all Palestinians. This right stems from the legitimacy of our just cause: the liberation of Palestine and the return of the refugees. If our aims are met, when our goals are achieved, then there will be no need for armed resistance.
But so long as Palestine is occupied, so long as colonization confiscates our homes, so long as there is a settler-colonial, apartheid system implanted in Palestine, Palestinians will continue to resist through all forms. Palestinians will resist through popular protest, by building their popular movements, and by strengthening their military resistance to occupation.
S: There have been attempts to classify Palestinian resistance as “terrorist,” something we see within this document, even as it rests upon solely political speeches and writings. What do you think about this framing and why is it used?
KB: The colonizer will always impose an array of labels on the colonized people when they rise up and resist. They have called us savages, barbaric, and now, terrorists. For example, we have seen the “terrorist” term used against the Native and indigenous population in North America, as the modern incarnation of those past terms, when people rise up to protect their land and people from settler-colonial violence and extraction. Most recently, we have seen this term used repeatedly by right-wing groups aiming to stir up racist hatred and harsh repression against the Wet’suwet’en land defenders and fellow strugglers across Canada, as they block pipeline construction and train and port traffic to protect Indigenous land.
Just as the term “terrorism” is not uniquely applied to Palestine, of course, armed struggle to resist colonialism is not the sole domain of Palestinians, even if it may appear to be in the rhetoric of the Zionist movement and the Israeli state, adopted here by German officials. Many national liberation movements and revolutions around the world were historically and are at present based on and include armed struggle as a central part of that fight for liberation. The people of Algeria won their liberation through armed struggle, despite the bitter cost of 1.5 million martyrs extracted by French colonialism.
Today, when people in the Philippines fight to defend their land, their resources and their rights and fight for real land reform and social change, they have the right to take up arms in their struggle. When the people of Namibia resisted German colonization and faced massacres at the hands of invading German forces in the late 19th century and early 20th century, they had the right to take up arms and resist by all means necessary the colonialist forces invading their land and confiscating their resources.
The important thing here is that the people who are colonized are the ones who determine their forms of struggle, how they use these forms of struggle and when they use them, according to the needs and dictates of the liberation struggle and the people, not according to the whims of the colonizer. Germany, the United States and these forces who are responsible for creating the misery of the Palestinian people have no role to play in determining how the Palestinian people fight for their liberation.
S: This document also repeatedly refers to the boycott campaign, particularly the BDS campaign. In May 2019, the Bundestag passed an anti-BDS resolution, which was claimed at the time to be “not legally binding.” Yet here we find it cited multiple times as a reason to ban a person from entering Germany for four years for no other reason than his support for Palestinian liberation: a clear legal attack on freedom of movement and expression justified through repeated citations of this resolution. They attempt to label the BDS campaign as anti-Semitic and justify its suppression on this basis, despite the fact that it is a Palestinian call based on principles of international law and human rights. Why do you think this is?
KB: Germany and Israel are attacking the Palestinian voices and the supporters of Palestine to protect their interests in the colonization of Palestine. They are not concerned for Jewish people around the world, but for the perpetuation of colonization. They claim that the BDS campaign recalls memories of the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses; of course, however, the BDS campaign has nothing to do with Jewish businesses in Germany or anywhere else, but with Israeli businesses in occupied Palestine as well as those multinational corporations reaping huge profits from the confiscation of Palestinian rights.
In fact, one of those multinational corporations that is a major target of BDS campaigns is HeidelbergCement, the German cement corporation that plunders Palestinian natural resources in the occupied West Bank of Palestine. It seems that there is, in reality, not German guilt for Nazi crimes, but self-interest in protecting its corporations involved in the theft of resources from an occupied, colonized people. In the same light, Germany is opposing the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction in occupied Palestine; is that not to protect the very German corporations profiting from war crimes?
We see today that the Zionist movement is closely aligned with far-right, neo-Nazi and fascist forces in Germany and throughout Europe. It is these groups that pose a threat to Jewish people in Europe – and also to our communities, who have been subjected to brutal racist attacks. On the other hand, Jewish people who speak up against Zionism and in support of Palestinian rights are themselves attacked as “anti-Semitic,” along with Palestinians, while fascists receive a free hand.
Which party was pushing an even more extreme anti-BDS, anti-Palestinian motion in the Bundestag? The AfD, the Alternative für Deutschland, the far-right, racist political party riddled with fascist sympathizers, because they saw it as support for their ally Israel and another way to attack Arab and Palestinian communities in Germany. And, of course, the rest of the parties in Germany, including the SPD and the CDU, have allowed an encouraged this kind of anti-Palestinian agitation, as we see in this dangerous Bundestag resolution.
Far from expressing guilt or responsibility for Nazi atrocities against Jewish people in Europe and the crimes of the Holocaust, this resolution and the other official anti-Palestinian attacks are an attempt to shift responsibility for these crimes from European fascism to Palestinian and Arab communities, especially refugee populations seeking refuge and safety. It is a tremendously racist resolution.
The racist, right-wing groups are in a direct alliance with Gilad Erdan and the Ministry of Strategic Affairs to attack this most basic form of expression by Palestinians and their supporters and allies – boycotting Israeli products and institutions. Meanwhile, BDS is supported by the progressive voices and social movements around the world, by a growing number of labor unions, left-wing parties, the progressive LGBT community that rejects pinkwashing, the anti-colonial women’s movement, liberation movements and oppressed peoples around the world. There is a Palestinian consensus on BDS and the boycott of Israel. There is an Arab popular consensus, even as reactionary regimes push a normalization agenda.
The reality is, they are worried because BDS is becoming a tool to raise the awareness of the public in Germany who still, in opinion polls, show greater support for the Palestinian cause. It exposes the relationship between Germany and Israel, the alliance in colonization and exploitation. It is Germany that provided free nuclear-capable submarines to Israel and continues to manufacture and sell these warships to the occupying power. These submarines are well-known to be equipped with nuclear warheads. This is only one part of Germany’s role in militarizing and destabilizing our region. We don’t want Israel’s nuclear weapons in our region!
Germany is not just militarizing Israel, it is becoming known to the people of the region as an enemy of Arabs and Palestinians, not only because they take these positions to defend the Israeli occupation from any type of pressure or accountability, but because of the racism and oppression directed against Arab and other refugee communities in Germany.
S: It seems that Germany doesn’t want to allow any opportunity for Palestinians to resist. They accuse you of being a danger for defending Palestinians’ right to resist through armed struggle, but also that you are a danger because you support a completely popular campaign, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
KB: The German state is lying when it claims to respect international law. If Merkel and Germany actually respect international law, they should be actively welcoming and engaging in the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which is a call based upon international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
The government of Germany should boycott Israel! All of the German parties should boycott Israel, including the SPD, which seeks to blame Palestinian youth for anti-Semitism in Germany, and Die LINKE, whose leadership’s cowardice means it repeatedly betrays its supposedly left principles when it comes to Palestine. If Germany genuinely supports international law, democracy, peace, human rights and all of these phrases it invokes in official statements, then Germany should support Palestinians. In fact, it should provide financial, political and military support to the Palestinian people. It should not be providing that support to Israel, the occupier and the colonizer.
S: In the document, they talked about you going to the European Parliament. They claim that you speaking at the Parliament is somehow proof that you are a leader of the PFLP, and they cite Israeli complaints about your speech but not the Parliament’s own response dismissing them. Of course, your speech was about Germany’s violation of your rights and the silencing of your speech through the political ban. Why do you think they say this about their own parliamentary institution of the European Union?
KB: The colonizers are enraged when the colonized resist, even by delivering a speech at the European Parliament. Even more, they want us to be isolated. The purpose of these attacks is to frighten not just me as an individual, but the community as a whole.
If all can see that instead, we have the support of people around the world, across Europe and even in the Parliament, they can see that we are not alone. We are not isolated or silenced, despite their best efforts. When the solidarity groups speak out and support us in raising our voice and continuing to struggle, it is clear that Palestinians are not isolated and we have friends.
When we went to the European Parliament, our objective was to expose German violations against Palestinians and supporters of Palestine in Germany. My case is just one case, it is not the only or even the most important case.
This is also deeply connected to the fight against racism and oppression in Germany. Migrants from all areas and walks of life, Arabs, Africans, Kurds, Iranians and others, as well as Roma and other marginalized communities of Europe, all suffer from oppression and racism in Germany in various forms. They want to personalize this case and make it an individual issue, when the real issue is a collective struggle for justice.
S: Throughout the document, they refer to the term anti-Semitism a number of times, although they never cite anything you say that is anti-Jewish. Instead, they blatantly equate opposition to Zionism and Israel with anti-Semitism. What do you think about this line of argument?
KB: Anti-Semitism exists and is real, and the primary perpetrators are right-wing, racist, anti-Jewish groups, the same groups that also attack people of color. These are the same fascists that can organize rallies in the streets of Germany, while German officials defend their “freedom of expression” and police attack anti-fascists who challenge them.
Not to mention the “legitimized” extreme right, like those of the AfD, who have entered Parliament with campaigns based on racist rhetoric. These are the forces that present the danger of anti-Semitism in Germany, and we need to oppose these forces and fight together. They are also the same groups that present an ongoing and direct threat to Palestinians, Arabs and all communities of color in Germany.
For Palestinians, the difference between the Zionist movement and Jewish people is quite clear. Our struggle has never been a religious conflict. It is not Palestinians who should be questioned by German officials about anti-Semitism. However, this is an important fight – in the real sense – because it can also help to deepen the unity between Jewish progressive forces and Palestinians and Arabs confronting racism, anti-Semitism and oppression in Germany, which also means confronting Zionism.
This struggle is one in which we can come together to build a united front, far from leading to tension and divisions. However, the state is not interested in confronting the threat presented by fascists; instead, we see this drive to shift responsibility for the historical crimes and legacy of Nazism and the Holocaust and blame Palestinians instead.
It should not even need to be said, but opposing Israel is not anti-Semitic. Opposing Zionism is not anti-Semitic. As I mentioned, progressive Jews also come under attack in Germany under the same banner. Jews and Palestinians have been put on trial for interrupting a member of the Knesset. The bank account of Jewish Voices for a Just Peace was shut down, the first time this was done to a Jewish group in Germany since the Nazi era.
These officially-backed attempts to discipline and suppress progressive Jews who challenge Zionism are in and of themselves anti-Semitic, as is the equation of Jewish people and Judaism with Zionism, occupation and oppression – something being done by the German supporters of apartheid and racism in Israel.
S: They also say that it is unacceptable that you do not “recognize Israel’s right to exist,” which they appear to want to create as a precondition for any Palestinian speech or political expression. What is your response to this?
KB: For Palestinians, to recognize “Israel’s right to exist” is not just treason but erasure of our truth, our history and our struggle. It is a justification of the Nakba and the crimes against our people.
States do not possess a “right to exist.” Only people possess that right. People have the right to live, but not states, not political systems and especially not colonial projects and apartheid regimes. What this also suggests is that it is impossible to consider an alternative to Israel. And what we say is that the alternative to Israel is indeed possible: a democratic Palestine, a democratic, secular society.
We fight to build our society, a liberated society, and not the state. We fight for the human. That is at the core of our cause. Palestinians will be victorious not only by ending the existence of colonization and apartheid in Palestine, but also by providing a genuine alternative for all people in Palestine, to live on an equal basis regardless of their religion, color, gender, sexual orientation, and so on.
S: Do you think the German government is involved in promoting “normalization,” or false dialogue that aims to justify colonialism in Palestine by presenting it as “Arab-Jewish dialogue,” when it is really about supporting Israel?
KB: Yes; they do not want to see a real, meaningful unity between progressive Jews and progressive Arabs in Berlin and throughout Germany. Instead, the German state and the local government in Berlin apparently wish to promote normalization efforts that distort the relationship between Arab and Jewish communities in Germany into one that is primarily about Israel and the defense of colonialism, rather than about confronting racism and oppression together.
We oppose these normalization efforts and have spoken out against them, and this is another reason why we see this latest attack. If you look at, for example, the way that they have used the framework of “interfaith dialogue” in an attempt to bring representatives of Zionist lobby groups to mosques in Berlin, this effort was supported by Berlin officials and representatives of the SPD. These efforts do not benefit our communities; they only aim to undermine Palestinian and Arab organizing and any real movement toward joint struggle.
S: You discussed racism in Germany before. We recently witnessed the horrific racist massacre in Hanau. At the same time, despite all of the condemnations of extreme racist violence, we see German officials, including the Interior Senator in Berlin, repeatedly issuing press releases and conducting a very public spectacle of raiding shisha bars in the Arab community in Berlin, or mainstream media issuing sensationalist stories about “clan crime.” All of this can encourage and normalize racism.
In the document, they say they are doing this to “deter other foreigners” from similar political activity. What do you think the relationship is between this case and racism inside Germany?
KB: When there is a racist attack on Palestinian, Arab, African, Turkish, Kurdish, Iranian and other communities, it is often labeled an isolated incident driven by individual pathologies. There is a real resistance to examining the context of the right-wing movement and far-right violence in Germany. The media is complicit, and the ruling class is complicit. Our communities are discussed as if our existence is a crisis and a problem; the image of a woman wearing hijab is portrayed as exotic or dangerous.
The only forces that benefit from this kind of propaganda are the ruling class and the capitalists who wish to set German workers against migrant communities rather than against the corporations that exploit both, and of course, the regimes that profit from racism. We would like to see a stronger society in Germany based on mutual solidarity and aid, especially at this time of crisis. In reality, the German state must recognize its own responsibility in the crimes against our people that have forced them to flee and seek safety.
Germany, the U.K., the European Union, Canada, the U.S., all of these want to avoid any scrutiny of their ongoing wars and occupations directed against the people of the region and the devastating effects of their militarization of our region. Imperialist forces do not want to address their dirty games and their devastating attacks that have forced our people to migrate.
It is Germany that benefits from the knowledge, culture and creativity of migrant and refugee populations that enrich German society despite the vast damage the German state and other imperialist powers have done to their home countries.
S: In this document, they also talk about the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine quite frequently. They admit that they cannot document your alleged role in the Front and that the PFLP is not banned in Germany, but they still say that it is “dangerous” that you express the positions of the Front because it is on the EU list of terrorist organizations. What do you think about these types of “terror lists”?
KB: The Popular Front is not an illegal organization in Germany. It is the largest Palestinian left party, that has a rich history of progressive, revolutionary struggle. The sympathizers of the Front number in the thousands – in Germany and in Europe alone. They are sympathetic to the Front because they believe in equality and in a democratic Palestine and because they oppose racism and all forms of oppression.
The so-called “terror list” of the EU and others, such as the U.S., is a means of political blackmail against popular struggles and revolutionary forces. It is a form of “the carrot and the stick.” It is used in an effort to attempt to extract concessions from these organizations. If they provide these concessions, they can be removed from the list. If they become traitors to their people and agents for imperialism, they can clear themselves from the list.
There is also an attempt to mislead the public. They list revolutionary organizations and liberation movements alongside criminal groups in a mish-mash, and then say that these are all the same. In the end, such lists are a failure; they will never change people’s political commitment and stands, nor stop oppressed peoples from struggling for their liberation.
The other objective of such terror lists is to frighten people, to say that if you have any kind of relationship, even a political relationship with Hamas, the PFLP, the FARC, the Communist Party of the Philippines, Turkish or Kurdish organizations, then you could be prosecuted. They are attempting to narrow the space of political activity in their own countries and frighten people into silence due to the fear that they could face persecution for speaking about these movements. In all cases, they are failing to redefine the fundamental goals and politics of the Palestinian people – or other peoples struggling for liberation – through these kinds of repressive measures.
S: What about Israel? What is the Israeli state’s role in all of this? The document seems to parrot claims made by Israeli propaganda agencies.
KB: Israel is losing the international battle with supporters of Palestine. There is growing support for BDS and for bringing Israeli impunity for war crimes to an end. And so, Israel is running to its backers and allies, the imperialist powers, for support: Germany, France, the UK, the United States. Imperialism is in a strategic alliance with Israel and Zionism, so it is no surprise that the parties of the ruling class in these countries go along with this imperative to denounce Palestinian liberation and defend apartheid by all means.
The racist, right-wing Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs, Gilad Erdan, is fighting this losing battle and also acting to justify the tens of millions of dollars spent on the budget of his ministry for shoddy propaganda. Erdan’s ministry has purchased its fawning news coverage in the Jerusalem Post. Posting this type of content has become a paid job for some Israelis.
Now, of course, Erdan is also the Minister of Public Security, which means he is in charge of the ongoing violations and crimes against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Many of these attacks have focused on organizations defending Palestinian prisoners, including both human rights organizations inside Palestine and international activist groups like Samidoun. Palestinian prisoners are facing a vicious attack inside Zionist prisons, and this is a further attempt to isolate the prisoners.
There is a connection between the oppression of Palestinians back home, especially the prisoners, and the targeting of Palestinians and their supporters around the world, including the BDS movement. They go hand in hand.
Israel views the international struggle as a threat. They cannot round up activists in New York, Berlin, Brussels, Chicago or Malmo and put them in administrative detention for six months as they do to their brothers and sisters inside occupied Palestine. So the dirty role belongs to the governments of the imperialist states, Belgium, Germany, the U.S., France and others, to repress the movement for Palestine.
The Palestinian prisoners who are today facing intense threats – including coronavirus, especially because we know how little Israel cares for the health and lives of Palestinian prisoners – they are the cream of the crop. They are the leaders of the Palestinian resistance and the solid core of our liberation struggle. This is why it is so crucial for the solidarity movement as a whole to place the struggle for their freedom as one of its main pillars, especially if we really want to fight back against the attacks of Erdan and his racist ministry.
S: Why do you think it is important to challenge these measures?
KB: We are challenging this legally and politically because we want to make it clear that we will not be silenced in the face of intimidation and that we will not back down. We are going to use all of the legal channels open to us to continue this struggle. It is necessary for us to fight back so that we do not make it easier for them to do this in the future.
If we do not challenge these attacks, claim our rights and say “no,” what will happen? They will oppress more people and attempt to intimidate more people. We must raise consciousness about the oppression our people face for being involved in the struggle for the liberation of Palestine.
Of course, they want to distract us from our primary goals, create obstacles, and make that path of liberation exceedingly difficult. But we can also turn this into an opportunity to inform the public about the reality of Israel and the Palestinian cause, not to mention racism and the struggle of immigrants, refugees and people of color in Germany and throughout Europe.
It is important for people to support not just my case, but to support the underlying principles, including our right to freedom of expression. Such precedents are not limited only to Palestinians and Arabs; they reflect an intention to silence voices for justice that poses a threat to the entire society.
Palestinians in the diaspora, especially the younger generation, must reclaim their role in the struggle. Palestinian women, in particular, must restore their leading and central role in the movement, roles that have been stripped away by Oslo and its aftermath. The Palestinian popular classes must rise up against all conditions of liquidation of our cause and our identity.
The only way that we can do this is by bringing our people together and by ensuring that Palestinians in the shatat assume their responsibility to themselves and to Palestine. Our Palestinian communities in North America, Europe and Latin America have strategic tasks to play in supporting each other, supporting the refugee camps, supporting our people back home and create a new dynamic in which we overcome the stage of Oslo in which we have been mired for over 25 years. An entire Palestinian generation has been born since the devastation of Oslo, with the potential to chart a new and revived path of struggle.
What are the tasks of the current stage for Palestinians in general and Palestinians outside? This is the question that the colonizers do not wish us to answer, collectively. That is why they try to distract us and attempt to create obstacles through lawfare and similar attacks.
For Palestinians, we know that this is a long path of struggle and resistance. We do not expect that we will liberate Palestine tomorrow. We know that we confront very powerful forces. But we do know with a deep certainty that we will liberate Palestine one day.